What is an ultra processed food and why should we reduce its consumption?


We always talk about processed foods with reference to those ingredients that have received an industrial process, which are the product of a food industry. However, in a different category they are ultra processed food, we tell you what they are and why you should reduce your intake.

What is an ultra processed food?

An ultra processed food is, according to the NOVA classification that categorizes foods processing function they have received, one that is made from processed ingredients and contains fresh ingredients or can be identified in their final presentation.

Thus, ultra processed foods are those made to be consumed without further and can replace a full meal.

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Among its ingredients predominate processed ingredients such as starch, sugar, oil, salt and also are present in the composition range of industrial additives that can not easily buy in stores. For example, most of its ingredients are preservatives, stabilizers, flavor enhancers, colorants, flavorings, emulsifiers, among others.

In this category of ultra processed foods are the following products:

  • Cookies and pastries.
  • Packaged sweet and / or salty snacks.
  • Breakfast cereals and granola or cereal bars.
  • Energy drinks.
  • Foods to reconstitute such as broths, soups or others.
  • Sausages and other sausages.
  • Ice creams.
  • Fortified foods.
  • Nuggets of chicken, fish or the like.
  • Baubles.
  • Pizzas.
  • Potatoes and commercial baby porridge.
  • Ready-to-eat hamburgers and other foods.

The nutritional profile of ultra processed

Clearly at present we are surrounded by ultra processed foods that make up a large part of the population, daily food.

It is therefore essential to know the nutritional profile of ultra processed foods that are widely consumed because of the comfort they represent, how accessible they are and how attractive are the palate in the midst of a hectic life, “no time” for cooking.

You may also like to read another article on xWorld: All about sweeteners: What they are, where they come from and how they affect our bodies?

A study in New Zealand confirms that in supermarkets, 80% of packaged foods are ultra processed and a higher degree of processing, the worse the nutritional profile of them. In fact, ultra-processed foods have the lowest nutritional quality.

Also, a higher degree of processing less satiety generate greater glycemic response foods and produce , as has completed a study published in Food and Function.

Also, food ultra processed are precisely those that can have addictive combinations to simultaneously provide high amount of salt and fat and / or high concentrations of sugar and fats as a source of highly pleasing to the palate energy.

For these reasons, ultra processed foods, so accessible, comfortable and appetizing are precisely those that leave much to be desired when analyzing nutritional quality.

Why we should reduce the ultra processed in our diet?

The low nutritional profile of ultra processed foods should already be reason enough to reduce their consumption if we want to achieve a food that protects health.

But in addition to a study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition indicates a positive association between intake of ultra processed food and the presence of overweight and obesity, conditions that have grown in recent years by leaps and bounds.

These foods are also the most have been linked to the presence of cancer due to the large number of additives and poor nutritional quality they possess.

In addition, foods with low power to satiate the body and high glycemic response may induce metabolic changes harmful, as well as poor ingredients in healthy nutrients like fiber, omega 3 and antioxidants such as ultra processed.

As if that were not enough, the ultra processed have more sodium, trans and saturated fats and higher energy density, all of which can adversely affect our health in the long term as has been studied in Brazil.

For all this, it is essential to reduce ultra processed foods in our diet and point us every day to cook and eat at home, because it is the best way to ensure good nutrients in the daily diet and thus protect the body from diseases of the poor life habits.

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